HANOI, VIETNAM - JULY 6, 2022: Russia s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signs a distinguished visitors book at the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry. Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service/TASS PUBLICATIONxINxGERxAUTxONLY TS1390E4

Release of US basketball player Griner in Russia a “priority” for Biden

US President Joe Biden sees the release of US basketball player Brittney Griner from Russian custody as a “priority” of his government. Biden’s spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre responded with this statement on Tuesday (local time) to a handwritten letter from the athlete to Biden, excerpts of which were published on Monday, in which she urgently asked the US President for help. “The President read the letter”, Jean-Pierre said at the daily press briefing in Washington, adding, “This matter is a priority for the President.” Biden is doing “everything he can” to get Griner released from Russian custody. However, the government spokeswoman did not give any details. Griner was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in mid-February. According to authorities, officials found cartridges for e-cigarettes with cannabis oil in their luggage. The amount was less than a gram of solid cannabis, prosecutors said. (AFP)

According to a survey, around three quarters of young Europeans feel sadness and anger because of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. This is the result of a representative study by the TUI Foundation, which is available to the editorial network Germany. 77 percent said the war made them sad, 74 percent said they were angry. According to their own words, 68 percent of those surveyed feel helpless, 53 percent fearful and 51 percent threatened. The feeling of being threatened is particularly pronounced in Germany (57 percent) compared to other nations. Only Greece (60 percent) and Poland (59 percent) achieved higher values. According to the information, the TUI Foundation surveyed more than 6000 Europeans aged 16 to 26 in April. The participants come from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Poland. (KNA)

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has reprimanded the military leadership after severe criticism of the registration requirements for conscripts in Ukraine. At the next meeting of the general staff, the 44-year-old demanded in a video message on Tuesday that the defense minister, chief of staff and army commander-in-chief should report to him in detail. “I promise the people to clarify the matter and ask the general staff not to make such decisions without me.” There is “misunderstanding” and “indignation” in society.

Army Commander-in-Chief Valeriy Zalushnyi and the General Staff had previously announced that conscripted Ukrainians would need permission to leave the reporting point. After criticism on social networks, it was added that this was only necessary for leaving the government district. The basis is a legal standard from 1992. (dpa)

A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared victory in the capture of Luhansk, his troops stepped up their offensive in neighboring Donetsk province. As the “Guardian” reported, the local governor then asked the more than a quarter of a million residents to evacuate.

According to the Associated Press agency, Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said the 350,000 remaining people must be evacuated to save lives and allow the Ukrainian army to better defend the cities against Russian advances.

“The fate of the whole country will be decided in the Donetsk region,” Kyrylenko told reporters in Kramatrosk, the province’s administrative center and home of the regional headquarters of the Ukrainian military. “Once there are fewer people, we can better focus on the enemy and carry out our main tasks.”

Ukraine wants to join the industrialized countries organization OECD. Prime Minister Denys Schmyhal announced on Tuesday via the Telegram news service that he had submitted a corresponding application on behalf of the country. Ukraine’s membership in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is “one of the cornerstones of successful reconstruction and development” of Ukraine, he said.

Even before the war, Ukraine was considered one of the poorest countries in Europe in terms of per capita income.

The Paris-based OECD brings together countries that are committed to democracy and a market economy. In addition to large national economies such as Germany, the USA and Japan, emerging countries such as Mexico and Chile are now members. For example, the organization’s experts regularly prepare economic forecasts. (dpa)

The Kharkiv fire brigade received support from a colleague from Germany. Nils Thal – a fire department officer from the city of Nuremberg – has interrupted his sabbatical year to help out in north-eastern Ukraine. “I kind of felt guilty lying on the beach in Thailand,” Thal told Reuters news agency at the train station. He has therefore decided to go where his help is most needed. To the front line. (Reuters)

In view of the Ukraine conflict, Spain will increase military spending by a good one billion euros in the coming year. The government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that this was decided in the cabinet on Tuesday a few days after the NATO summit was held in Madrid. This corresponds to an increase in military spending of around 7.7 percent. According to NATO information, the country recently spent a good 13 billion euros on defense. According to the government communiqué, the new funds are necessary “to cover the extraordinary expenses of the armed forces caused by the (Russian) invasion of Ukraine”.

Spain’s military expenditures account for around one percent of the country’s gross domestic product. According to Sánchez, Spain should reach the minimum mark of two percent of GDP demanded by the USA and NATO in 2029. The increase in spending next year planned by the minority government does not need to be approved by parliament. According to the decision, it should be paid from the reserve fund of the state budget. (dpa)

After months of appreciation, the Russian ruble has fallen sharply on the Moscow stock exchange. The Russian national currency lost around ten percent against the dollar and the euro on Tuesday. Extrapolated to the past three trading days, the loss was around 20 percent, according to the RBC news agency.

At the end of the trading day, the dollar cost more than 61 rubles, the euro more than 63 rubles. During the course of the day, the key currencies were at times even more than 62 or 64 rubles. This is the highest level since early May. However, the ruble is still significantly more expensive than before the start of the war in February. The background to the appreciation were massive restrictions on foreign exchange trading and the sanctions, which particularly restricted Russia’s imports. As a result, demand for euros and dollars in Moscow had also fallen.

Experts justify the devaluation that has now taken place with the easing of foreign exchange policy by the central bank and the expectation that the central bank will also resume foreign exchange purchases on the stock exchange. Imports of consumer goods are also important for the further development of the ruble, which according to Economics Minister Maxim Reshetnikov have recently increased again slightly. (dpa)

The Russian parliament is considering terminating a border agreement in the dispute with Norway over a delivery blockade to Spitsbergen. The Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee will examine this and then inform the deputies, the Speaker of the Lower House Vyacheslav Volodin told the parliament’s website on Tuesday. In 2010, Russia and Norway defined their sea borders in the Barents Sea in the agreement, ending a 40-year-old dispute.

The two countries are two important players in the Arctic region with its wealth of raw materials. The agreement was seen at the time as a fresh start in Moscow-Oslo relations. Since then, however, tensions have escalated, particularly because of Moscow’s Russian military offensive in Ukraine.

The Norwegian Foreign Ministry called on Russia to abide by the agreement. It “doesn’t contain a review clause,” the ministry said. “It’s common for this type of border agreement to be indefinite.” (AFP)